Respect for Teachers

The status of teachers in society is a debate that raises its head from time to time. With recent events in the USA the topic has, again, come to the surface. It is a relevant topic that matters, if for no other reason than the fact that the status of the profession influences the choices made by young graduates about whether or not to consider education as a viable career option.

The New York Times recently carried a series of articles giving different perspectives on the issues, under their ‘Room for Debate’ series:

New York Times – Teacher Status

I feel inclined at times when reading these kinds of opinion pieces to compare and contrast the teaching profession with other professions, such as doctors or lawyers. In many countries these professions have established their credentials and self-governed standards of professional conduct through firm, rational self-governance which has usually prevented the inclination of others to impose rules and regulations on them. For some reason, the teaching profession has a history of refusing and resisting both external regulation and self-regulatory bodies. I believe in today’s world it is naïve to say ‘trust us because we are teachers, leave us to do our jobs and don’t talk about our accountability’. ‘Consumers’ believe that accountability must always be there. In many countries there are bodies that do a lot of good work on educational standards, professional development of teachers etc. (e.g. ASCD in the USA). However, these bodies are voluntary, tending to attract the best and most motivated of teachers, but too often inadvertently providing the smokescreen behind which the lower standard teachers can avoid accountability.

Most individual teachers are respected for the challenging work they do in often intense circumstances. However, this doesn’t translate in to respect for the profession as a whole – and that’s something all teachers need to reflect on.


4 Responses

  1. Like in any other profession, pursuit of excellence, constant search for ‘smarter, faster, better way’ is what creates the winner.

    I believe Shriram School has successfully managed to create a model of educational excellence (I constantly compare the teaching style with my time).

    It would be a good idea to best practice this model with the government. After all knowledge shared is knowledge earned

  2. How does one define a “good ” teacher. I know when my child has one but to quantify the teacher’s output is a challenge.
    And yet a child’s interest in a subject shoots up the moment we have involved, interested, up to date teachers. This over a period of time even shows in the grades of the class in general. But the moment they move to another class and the teacher changes, the interest dips and along with it the grades.
    I guess there must be certain key quantifiable parameters on the basis of which a teacher can be assessed and helped in improving herself or himself.

  3. Teacher is not only for teaching subjects in class but also has been seen as role model for young minds.
    As per the research young minds believe more teacher’s words than parents.So teacher has to cultivate the idea of respect to young minds.Without the value of respect the society cannot be disciplined and truthful.Teachers cannot be compared with consumable goods that people use and throw.Many people still remember their teachers and thanked them for generating inspirations to fulfill their aims in their lives. Parents and students must give respect to teachers to create a respectable society for their kids and to get respect from their kids.

  4. I think that the reason doctors and some other professionals are able to put standards in place is that standards work for those professions. In teaching, however, what works for every single child is unique. What is a good teacher for one child is a bad teacher for another.

    Some basic principles that imho can be applied, like respect for the individual and optimal access to love and opportunity in class.. these are things that cannot be quantified in any way.

    So, if one was to go out and try to set standards for teachers, i am not sure where one would begin, or how one would go about it.. except perhaps ensuring that the teacher knows her own subject well.

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